Samuel, the attractive and ambitious son of a Shropshire farmer, enlists as a teenager at the outbreak of the First World War and eventually transfers to the Royal Flying Corps. He survives the war and returns home to rebuild the family farm. A letter from a friend who is working abroad tempts him to begin a new life in Malaya as a rubber planter. Unknown to him, his childhood sweetheart is pregnant with his child and he marries Ruth, an Oxford graduate he meets on board ship. When their daughter, Stephanie, is told that the father of her unborn child is her half-brother, she attempts suicide, prompting Ruth to confess that Sam is not her father.